5 Legendary Books To Become a Better Parent
By Daniel Schmitz, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International
As a parent, do you ever wonder if you make the right decisions and if you are doing all you can to help your children grow up in the best way possible? Or do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the different forms of parenting advice, whether it's family, friends, in books or online?
It can be very hard to figure out what the best advice is and the whole experience can be quite stressful. I’m a parent myself and I have read quite a few books and articles over the years telling us what to do and what not to do. What makes it even more confusing is these books often seem to contradict each other!
So instead of focussing on the “doing” side of parenting, I wanted to step back a bit and write about some legendary books which can help us to understand the importance of what it means to BE a better parent.
The common theme of these books is that they focus more on the parent and how to help the parent to make different choices instead of putting most of the attention onto the child...
"Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?"
- Brené Brown
The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey
“Good families – even great families – are off track 90% of the time. The key is that they have a sense of destination. They know what the “track” looks like. And they keep coming back to it time and time again.”
“The key is in having a destination, a flight plan, and a compass. Invest your attention in this study and you will be given the most valuable tools ever to find your destination for your family.”
In this book, Dr Stephen R. Covey provides a powerful framework of timeless principles to families which helps to stay on track and not to get lost in day-to-day struggles of family life. Mr Covey’s research points out the importance of developing your character and he explains the difference between the Personality and Character Ethic. The book focuses on the creation of a family environment you want to live in and contains practical tips and lots of examples from his own life experience.
If you want to read about how Mr Covey’s son helped him to see the root of change, please check out this article.
The Conscious Parent by Dr Shefali Tsabary
“Whether you have an infant or a teen, your children need to feel that just because they exist, they delight you. They need to know they don’t have to do anything to earn your undivided attention. They deserve to feel as if just by being born, they have earned the right to be adored.”
“Children learn who they are and what they really enjoy if they are allowed to sit with themselves. Inundated with activity and subjected to lesson upon lesson, how can they hope to recognise their authentic voice amid the din of all this “doing?”
“When you parent, it’s crucial you realise you aren’t raising a “mini me,” but a spirit throbbing with its own signature. For this reason, it’s important to separate who you are from who each of your children is.”
In The Conscious Parent, Dr Shefali explores the importance of getting back in touch with our own feelings and to recognise the emotions inside ourselves. She explains how they impact the way we parent and the influence our children.
Please also check out the interview with Dr Shefali and Oprah Winfrey about The True Role of a Parent.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, And Lead By Brené Brown
“The real questions for parents should be: "Are you engaged? Are you paying attention?" If so, plan to make lots of mistakes and bad decisions. Imperfect parenting moments turn into gifts as our children watch us try to figure out what went wrong and how we can do better next time. The mandate is not to be perfect and raise happy children. Perfection doesn't exist, and I've found what makes children happy doesn't always prepare them to be courageous, engaged adults.”
“Wholeheartedness. There are many tenets of Wholeheartedness, but at its very core is vulnerability and worthiness; facing uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks, and knowing that I am enough.”
In this legendary book, Brene Brown speaks about the importance of being vulnerable in life, the courage it takes to be vulnerable and the impact this has on parenting our children. How easy is it to try to act like we have everything under control though under the surface we don’t really know what we are doing and we struggle to handle life situations? It's very freeing to know that we don’t need to be perfect and how destructive covering up our flaws and pretending to be perfect is. Rather, she advises us to embrace and accept that we are human and will make mistakes, especially as parents! 🙂
Brené Brown also wrote a beautiful “Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto”. If you want to read it, check out this article.
Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential By Carol S. Dweck
“Parents think they can hand children permanent confidence—like a gift—by praising their brains and talent. It doesn’t work, and in fact, has the opposite effect. It makes children doubt themselves as soon as anything is hard or anything goes wrong. If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.”
The research of Carol S. Dweck is about creating a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset in ourselves and also in our children. The difference this change has on our lives is enormous and this can already be instilled in our children from a young age. If you want to read more about this, please have a look here.
The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck
“As long as one marries, enters a career or has children to satisfy one’s parents or the expectations of anyone else, including society as a whole, the commitment by its very nature will be a shallow one. As long as one loves one’s children primarily because one is expected to behave in a loving manner toward them, then the parent will be insensitive to the more subtle needs of the children and unable to express love in the more subtle, yet often most important ways. The highest forms of love are inevitably totally free choices and not acts of conformity.”
M. Scott Peck describes in this book how to build loving, healthy relationships and he explores the difference between dependency and love and how this is related to becoming a better parent. He also recognises, as in the famous opening line of his book, that “Life is difficult” and how developing more self-discipline is the foundation for building a great life.
So How Do We Apply This?
It's one thing to read and be inspired by these books but do you know how many people actually manage to apply them to their family life? It's been estimated that only 10% of people get passed the first chapter of a development book like these ones and only 1% actively try to apply them. I've seen myself over the years that reading books like these and applying them in my own family can be very difficult. That's why having people around me who are also parents learning to apply books like these is so crucial. As human beings we are not designed to do things like raise children alone, because as the saying goes "It takes a village to raise a child".
We are currently bringing together parenting mastermind groups to exchange books like these and to support one another to apply them. If you'd like to learn more about that or know someone who might, please just reply below...